Vatican archaeologist: Paul really is buried where the church said he is
Giorgio Filippi, a archeology specialist with the Vatican Museums, says a sarcophagus containing the remains of the apostle Paul has been discovered in the basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura (St. Paul Outside the Walls).
"The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperor Theodosius (379- 395) saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostle," Filippi told Catholic World News (partial reprint) after a brief item appeared in an Italian news report Wednesday.
"An initial survey enabled archeologists to reconstruct the shape of the original basilica, built early in the 4th century," Catholic World News reported. The article continues:
A second excavation, under the main altar of the basilica, brought the Vatican team to the sarcophagus, which was located on what would have been ground level for the original 4th-century building. Under the altar was a marble plaque was still visible, dating back to the 4th century, and bearing the inscription: "Apostle Paul, martyr." Filippi remarks that surprisingly, "Nobody ever thought to look behind that plaque." When the Vatican team looked, they found the sarcophagus.
We're still feeling the fallout from the last time we got all excited about an archaeological link to the early apostles. Weblog will let the pros debate this one for now. But it's worth noting this section from Christianity Today sister publication Christian History and Biography's special issue on Paul:
The New Testament doesn't tell us [how and when Paul died]. Acts ends with the cliffhanger: Paul under house arrest in Rome while awaiting trial. What happened next, the writer didn't say. Perhaps he figured his ...